Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Whose money is truly tainted? Or, Are Rauner bucks really holier than thou?

We’re only at the first day of spring 2017 on Monday, while Election Day for Illinois governor won’t take place until we’re close to winter of 2018. Yet the level of doggie waste being generated on behalf of the campaigns truly is astounding.
What would 'Honest Abe' think of Daniel Biss, Bruce Rauner, or any of the Illinois officials now involved in creating Illinois' financial mess? Photograph provided by State of Illinois

Monday was the day that state Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, formally declared himself a candidate for governor, and made a point of taking pot shots both at Gov. Bruce Rauner and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago.

AS THOUGH HE wants to create an impression that he’s somehow separate from the process of Illinois government. While everybody else is fighting, he’s the guy who would like to do some serious work toward getting our government operating properly again.

Which is nonsensical – he’s just a state senator from the North Shore suburbs, which makes him a complete unknown to everybody else in the state. And it’s questionable whether he has the resources to become better known.

In short, he’s a non-ethnic Amaya Pawar – the alderman from Chicago who has his own political dreams of running for governor.

The Illinois Republican Party, of course, went on their usual line of attack – instantly declaring him to be a party hack who does whatever it is that Madigan tells him to do.

“DANIEL BISS IS the North Shore branch of the Madigan machine,” state GOP spokesman Steven Yaffe said, in a prepared statement, adding later, “Daniel Biss is a willing Mike Madigan accomplice who would give the governor’s office back to the Chicago machine.”

Which is pretty much the standard line of rhetoric Republicans try tossing out – just fill in the blank with the name of the candidate. The rest stays the same, no matter how little it makes any sense.

If anything, there was one part of Yaffe’s statement Monday that made me laugh – the part where he produced what he wants us to think of as a dirty little secret that taints Biss. “Financial records reveal that Biss has taken over $260,000 in tainted Madigan money” (emphasis added).
RAUNER: Is his money holy?

Yet only four minutes before I received the Yaffe e-mail, I got one from Rauner himself. One that says he will match, dollar for dollar, any contribution people make to Citizens for Rauner (his campaign committee) to help boost his own re-election campaign.

RAUNER, OF COURSE, is the guy who already has pledged to spend some $50 million of his own money toward his re-election bid AND those of Republican candidates for the Legislature whom he would expect to become his political allies.

In short, the Rauner vision is to be able to operate like a strongman with legislators who rubber-stamp his vision – which largely is one meant to undermine the authority of organized labor.

There are going to be a ton of Republicans running for office in 2018 (can’t we just declare the April 4 municipal elections over and done with already so we can move on to the process next year some people might actually care about?) on Rauner bucks.

Or are we supposed to truly believe that only Madigan money is tainted, while Rauner’s finances are the equivalent of being blessed by His Holiness himself. Does Bruce Rauner see himself as the political equivalent of the Pope? Should we all genuflect and kiss his ring?!?

BUT BACK TO Biss, who wants us to believe he’s some sort of political virgin, saying to reporter-types Monday, “I’ve been clear for a long time that Madigan has been there too long.”

Yet he also has led fundraising efforts to produce money meant for anti-Rauner advertising to try to sway voters – which, in Rauner’s mind, is the true offense of which he’s guilty and must be put to a political death! That, and he publicly blames Rauner for the state’s inability to come up with a budget for the past two fiscal years.
Candidates won't ever come across this charming

Considering that we have nearly 20 months to go before the Nov. 6, 2018 date upon which we actually pick a new governor (or decide that Rauner is worthy of another term), all I can say is that I dread the endless rounds of nonsense we’ll be subjected to – particularly since that recent SIU-Paul Simon Institute poll showed people don’t like Rauner just as much as they don’t like Madigan.

I took my father’s dogs, Rocco and Carmelo, for a walk Monday just before writing this commentary, and Carmelo (the light brown one) left a steaming pile of a certain substance that is going to prove as unappetizing as anything the candidates have to say.


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